Wasatch Railroad Contractors and CEO sentenced on wire fraud, knowing endangerment charges

Acting United States Attorney Nicholas Vassallo announced in a press release today that John Eldon Rimmasch, 47, of Cheyenne, and Wasatch Railroad Contractors (“Wasatch”), incorporated in Wyoming in 2005, appeared before Federal District Court Judge Alan B. Johnson on July 5, 2022, for sentencing after a federal jury found them guilty on five counts of wire fraud and one count of knowing endangerment for knowingly exposing employees to asbestos and placing them in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury.

Headquartered in Cheyenne Wasatch also operated a facility in Shoshoni. The company performed repair and restoration on freight cars and its Wasatch Railroad Contractors division purported to specialize in restoring historic railroad equipment. John Eldon Rimmasch is the founder and owner of Wasatch and served as its Chief Executive Officer.

This case arose after Wasatch and its owner, Rimmasch, entered a contract to restore a historic railcar owned by the National Park Service. Wasatch failed to complete the restoration, and in the process, Rimmasch knowingly placed 30 of his employees in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury by exposing them to asbestos without proper safety measures. Through directives of its owner, Rimmasch, Wasatch invoiced the National Park Service certifying that it performed the asbestos abatement pursuant to the contract, knowing full well it had not.

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At the sentencing hearing, Judge Johnson found that John Rimmasch attempted to obstruct justice by presenting a fraudulent exhibit at the jury trial and abused his position of trust during the commission of the crimes. Rimmasch was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 30 months and three years of supervised release on each count to run concurrently. Rimmasch was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $7,428 and a special assessment of $600. Wasatch Railroad Contractors, now defunct, was ordered to pay a special assessment of $2,400.00.

“Our office will vigorously prosecute those who commit environmental crimes or engage in fraud against the government,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Vassallo. “We appreciate the excellent investigative work performed in this case by the United States Department of the Interior, Office of the Inspector General and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.”

“The Department of the Interior Office of Inspector General will continue to aggressively root out attempts to defraud the U.S. government and taxpayers,” said Jamie DePaepe, Special Agent in Charge, Department of the Interior, Office of Inspector General’s Western Region. “We hope today’s sentencing will serve as a deterrent to others contemplating stealing federal funds for their own personal gain, as well as to those who would knowingly risk the lives and health of others in furtherance of their fraudulent scheme.”

The crimes were investigated by the United States Department of the Interior, Office of the Inspector General, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie I. Sprecher and Special Assistant United States Attorney Richard Baird prosecuted the case.

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